Saturday, July 13, 2013

Letter to My Children







I’m not raising little boys, I’m raising men.  
 
Son, don’t expect to be rewarded every time you do the right thing.  There seems to be a parenting trend  to give a child a prize of some kind when he does what should be expected of every person.  This is not real life and I am not going to train you to expect a treat every time you do what I expect of you.  I am preparing you for manhood.  I am trying to instill in you an intrinsic joy with doing your best work.  

Because sometimes that internal knowledge that you have done the right thing is the only reward you’re going to get.  If you have learned to rely on the trinkets dangled in front of you by others to guide your behavior, I fear that you will follow that lure off the path that you know is right.  Knowing you are true to yourself and your beliefs is sometimes the only compensation you will get.  I am trying my best to raise a strong man who knows right from wrong and does the right thing – just because it is right.   I hope you cultivate an inner strength to carry you through the times when your actions aren’t acknowledged or appreciated.


Little Boy, I’m training you to be a man much like your father.  No, I am not trying to clone his likes, dislikes, his skills and talents.   But take a close look at him.  People respect him because he is kind and wise.   He doesn’t push his way through, but rather sacrifices for others.  This is my wish for you, Dear Boy.  

God has given you many talents.  Its up to you to figure out how to apply those talents and abilities in your life for the betterment of others. 

I am working hard to raise a man in command of his emotions.  Not that you don’t feel or express fear, grief or anger, but rather that you can do it in an appropriate way that doesn’t trample anyone else.  I want to you figure out how to make your mark on the world, and make it better through service to others.

Don't make the mistake some men do of confusing aggression with strength.  Real strength is the wisdom to know which battles to fight.  Real strength is knowing how to use your power for the good of others.  Real strength is knowing how to forgive and move on.

And I know, Sweet Boy, that a big part of joy in life is finding someone to spend your life with.  The right girl won’t care about cars, money, prestige, or any type of fleeting glories. The right girl for you will look to the character traits that are inside you, the ones that I have been trying to help you refine since you were small, and recognize your good heart.  And son, you will treat all those women and girls who enter your life with respect.  Trust your Mama on this – I will tolerate nothing less. 

Seeing glimpses of the man you are becoming fills my heart with joy.


I am not raising little girls, I’m raising women.  


I am raising you to be assertive, to stand up for what you know is right and to work hard for what you want.  I need you to learn to balance between pushing people over or being the one shoved down by someone more forceful.  Little Girl, please don’t make the mistake of assuming assertive is the same as ruthless or rudeness.  You are better than that.

It is hard being a girl – with conflicting images everywhere telling you what you are suppose to be.  It is difficult to not get overwhelmed.  But trust me, Dear Girl, you are enough.  Just as you are, you are enough. 

And don't ever let me catch you acting less than I know you can.  It is never adorable to act less intelligent than you are, less strong than you are, less amazing than you are.  Competitiveness is not a dirty word.  Hard work and effort will bring you great things, so don't downplay your accomplishments or demurely step aside when your talents should shine.  God made you who you are for a reason - trying to hide your amazing self is like telling God he shouldn't have bestowed those talents on you.  And none of us know better than God.


One day, Sweet Girl, some boy is gong to call you beautiful.  You’ll be delighted at being treasured, valued, wanted.  But your father and I are working hard so that this isn’t going to make your head spin – you will already know these things.  You will be able to judge the source of this flattery better when the sentiments themselves are not a novelty.  

Look at your Dad.  Do you see the kind of man he is?  This is what I want for you.  When some boy makes you swoon, I want you to make sure he is worthy of your heart.  Now is not the time to let the overwhelming flush of hormones control your body.  I am taking your feeling seriously.  But honestly, now is the time to figure out how to be friends with a boy.  Because when you wake up next to the same man thousands of mornings in a row, you will want a kind, honest, generous, hard-working, trustworthy, funny, selfless man looking back at you.  You deserve that.  

Forget for a moment (if you can) about how your stomach flips when you see him.  Instead look to how he is treating others, especially the women and girls around him.  Does he respect his mother, his teachers, his sisters?  Does he talk bad about the girls in your class?  My heart would break if I found out you weren’t being respected like you deserve – and yes, you (along with every other woman) are worthy of that.

I discipline you and encourage you to become the best version of yourself because I can see more potential in you as a human being than you can imagine in yourself.  Your value is so incredibly great, I wish you could see what I see when I look at you.  This worth is not tied to your relationship to any boy or man who comes along.  

I see glimpses of the woman you are becoming and it fills my heart with pride.


Dear Child, 

I only have about eighteen years to get you ready for the world.  Do you know how frightening that is to me sometimes?  

I realize you aren’t always happy with my parenting.  I can be tougher on you than you think necessary.  But I do hope that even when you disagree with me, you understand that I am doing everything out of love.  

I am not your friend, I am your mother.  And I will continue to do what I think is right to shape your character and allow you to reach your full potential as a productive member of the 7-billion strong society living on this planet.

That is why I discipline you.  That is why I don’t just give you what you think you want, when you want it.  This is why I let you face the consequences of your decisions and don’t swoop in to save you from all unpleasantness.  This is why I make you do the hard thing, just because it is right.  Don’t you realize that I hate saying “no” and don’t like being the uncool parent.  Trust me, Sweet Child, you are much more pleasant to be around when you are happy with me.  But I am strong enough to face your displeasure.

My sweet child, you are the greatest gift God has ever given me, and I thank God every day that I have been blessed to be your mother.